Facebook Portal Combines Video Calling and Alexa for $199

See Facebook's first hardware product

Facebook's new Portal and Portal+ smart displays.

And Facebook seems to be putting privacy front and center for the Portal series, offering users additional features to protect their data.

Portal devices are Alexa enabled as well, allowing you to access your smart home devices and use Alexa Skills.

And since Messenger can be used without a Facebook account, Portal users won't need a Facebook account to use it - only Messenger. If you pre-order both, you will receive a $100 discount. It is controlled using voice commands, although Facebook has eschewed the personal approach of competitors such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa in favour of a more disembodied presence: users initiate instructions with: "Hey Portal".

However, to address potential security concerns about Portal (aside from the general rising distrust of Facebook), Facebook says the Portal's microphones and camera feature an option that will "physically" disconnect those components, and the company has installed an indicator light that glows red so you know they're off.

The idea that users might be creeped out by such a device is not lost on Facebook, which claims that Portal is "private by design". Plus, to manage Portal access within your home, you can set a four- to 12-digit passcode to keep the screen locked.

Video calls conducted on a Portal are encrypted, while AI technology runs locally on the devices, not Facebook servers. Portal's camera doesn't use facial recognition and doesn't identify who you are. The Portal may be competing against Amazon Echo devices, but the same Alexa assistant will power them.

OnePlus 6T reveal date is revealed - tickets now on sale
While the nature of display will be the same, OnePlus is expected to change the size of its display for the OnePlus 6T . But, unfortunately, it requires quite a lot of space and the company had to ditch 3.5mm audio jack in the OnePlus 6T .

In addition to video calls, meanwhile, Portal will also support Spotify Premium, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as Facebook Watch, Food Network, and Newsy, with more in the works. The larger Portal+ has an HD 15.6-inch screen that can swivel between vertical and horizontal views.

When you're not using the Portal, a feature called Superframe will let you display your favorite photos and videos or important notifications such as birthday reminders. Facebook also promises it will not use Portal data to target users with adverts on its site, and says the device itself will not include any adverts - at launch, at least. The only other time Facebook tried to sell hardware was in 2013, when it built the software for a custom HTC phone that flopped. It's worth noting that you can't browse Facebook, the social network, on the Portal.

On the surface, these may look like some of the other smart displays on the market, like Lenovo's Smart Display or Amazon's Echo Show, it's what's inside that makes it different.

Despite a firestorm of privacy scandals that have engulfed the company over the past year, Facebook wants to put its own smart speaker in your home.

Facebook will offer Portal in two sizes - a $199 model with a 10-inch horizontal screen and a $349 "Plus" version with a 15.6-inch screen that can switch between vertical or horizontal orientations. The processing of users' voice commands happens on the device, not in a Facebook data centre.

During a conversation, the integrated camera can automatically zoom out to include a second person, or be instructed to follow a certain individual as they walk around.

Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls.

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